Sarah Cook gives the low-down on her vegan summertime tips, from seasonal recipes to how best to avoid pesky sunburn and hayfever.
The sun is out, the days are long and everyone is thinking about holidays. Being a relatively new vegan, I have made a few changes to my regular summer schedule to reflect my ethical choices. Here are some of the things I’ve learned. You can also check out my most recent blog 'Super summer ideas for all' for even more tips.
How to have the best barbeque
I love cooking, and have really enjoyed learning a bunch of new recipes. My absolute favourite is seitan steaks with BBQ sauce from The Veganomicon – just brush on the BBQ sauce as you cook it. Great in a crusty baguette with a bit of lettuce. You can also check out this seitan recipe here.
I similarly love sweet potatoes. I bake a whole bag of them in the oven at once in order to have them ready cooked if I need them – they happily last a week in the fridge. You can cut them in half, brush with a little oil and re-heat on a BBQ very quickly. Leftovers can go towards making a scrumptious savoury tart.
My partner believes no meal is complete without sweetcorn, so naturally we must have some cobs on the grill. He has been a vegan for a long time – and a vegetarian before that – thus has developed something of an aversion to the 'standard' vegetarian offerings of courgette and aubergine. This means I try to avoid cooking those, but I still think they are a lovely option: especially as the skin on an aubergine chars really well on a BBQ. Stick them on a skewer with some tofu and peppers and you've got the perfect vegan kebab. I also love a good potato salad with vegan mayonnaise, some wholegrain mustard, chives and dill.
Often I like to make a tasty tofu halloumi as an extra addition to the BBQ. First, I press firm tofu overnight. Then in the morning I cut the fully-squeezed block into strips, marinading in a mix of 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp nutritional yeast and 1 tsp garlic powder. I let it marinade for an hour or so, before brushing with olive oil and grilling.
I get bad hayfever. Like, itchy eyes, fluffy tongue, runny nose, sneezing. All the attractive stuff. So I was pretty unhappy to learn that most antihistamine medications contain lactose. Now, if you go to the pharmacy and ask them nicely, they should be able to provide you with Cetirizine (one of the main antihistamines on the market) in a liquid form, which is usually offered for children. You will need to check who produces this in order to establish their credentials on animal testing; however it can be very difficult to find this information. Check out The Vegan Society’s guidelines on medicine for more information.
The other option is to treat the symptoms individually. There are a number of reasonable nose sprays (it’s all glamour round my way I tell you) or products like eye drops to soothe sore eyes – again, check with the manufacturer regarding animal testing. A lot of Superdrug’s own brand items including eye drops are vegan. For people who prefer more natural remedies, I hear good things about nettle tea and also about eating local flowers – though it is very important to check that those flowers are actually edible and to wash them first. Certain industrious persons have even made syrups and confections from petals and plants, including a dandelion marmalade which looks amazing. Has anyone tried such remedies? Comment on the article to let me know whether they work for you.
Choosing the perfect vegan ice cream
Whilst slices of watermelon are lovely in the heat, there is something about summer that makes me scream for ice cream. There’s a running battle in our house as to whether Booja-Booja (expensive, but so smooth and rich) is the best ice-cream, or whether the more mainstream brands are better. There is an ace recipe for ice-cream using aquafaba here on our blog; the fluffiness of aquafaba means you do not need to churn the cream so it is super easy. I love making strawberry shakes with 2 parts vanilla vegan ice-cream, 1 part soy milk and 1 part strawberries; just blitz in your blender.
Sorting your sun cream
I am a pale person so this is really important, as is remembering to throw away any left over from summers two-three years ago – it tends not to keep longer than that, and you need to ensure that it is performing up to the right level of protection for you. Oliella make a lovely tin of vegan sunscreen and have matching aftersun products, while other vegan items include Yaoh’s hemp sun block as well as sun screen by Eco Cosmetics. If you do not manage to avoid the sunburn, aloe vera gel makes a great aftersun lotion, and there are lots of vegan brands. Pro-tip – keep it in the fridge for extra cooling.
By Sarah Cook
Do you have any other advice to add? Comment below with your favourite summertime tips.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.